I have a confession to make: I’m a bandwagon Rangers fan.
Before you jump on me for my fair-weather ways, look at yourself in the mirror and tell me you aren’t the same way.
If you’re a person who has been going to the Ballpark in Arlington since you were 5 years old and sat through those 100-degree summers of losing, then props to you. The team you’ve been waiting for all these years has finally come through, and you deserve to be a part of this pennant race more than I do.
But I personally don’t see any shame in my sudden change of faith. My hometown baseball team is good. Really good. So I’m going to cheer for them.
When I was little, my dad had Rangers season tickets because he’s a baseball guru (imagine his dismay when I didn’t last through my first and only softball practice). He took me to every Rangers Opening Day game from ages 6 through 15, but that was the only game I’d attend all season.
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to go to the ballpark and eat hotdogs and get mint chocolate chip ice cream in those awesome baseball hat bowls. I even had a “Pudge” Rodriguez jersey and hoped to catch a fly ball in my little black mitt. But I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy sweating in plastic seats watching a slow, three-hour baseball game just for my team to end up losing.
My whole life I’ve been an avid sports fan, but never liked baseball thanks to the Rangers.
But then a few months ago, the Rangers acquired a certain All-Star lefty — Cliff Lee — and everything changed.
“I didn’t know we were going to get him. It didn’t look as though we had a chance,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told <em>ESPN.com</em>. “When we got him, it sent a spark throughout the whole team. It meant the organization was serious about helping us win. I thought we had a good club. I thought we could make the playoffs. But when you get a guy like Cliff Lee, well, then you can start thinking big.”
The Lee trade gave me a spark, too. So on July 27th, I watched him pitch against the A’s in his fourth start as a Ranger. He struck out 13 batters and only allowed five hits and one run in nine innings as the Rangers won 3-1.
“Wait, the Rangers are good now,” I thought. “Am I a ... Rangers fan?”
The answer was yes.
So I started paying closer attention and developed a newfound love and appreciation for baseball.
Now the Rangers are in the ALCS for the first time in franchise history and I’ve got my antlers and claws up. I even went to Game 3 of the Rays series, and am currently watching Lee mow down the Yankees in his third post-season game of 10-plus strikeouts.
But it’s not just Lee that’s turned me into a fan. It’s the fact that the team sprayed Ginger Ale in the locker room after winning the ALDS so that center fielder Josh Hamilton could participate in the celebration. It’s the way the team didn’t fold in Game 2 of the ALCS after giving up a five-run lead to the Yankees the night before. It’s because every time closers Alexi Ogando or Neftali Feliz take the mound, the coolest Dominican Republic music blares on the speakers at the ballpark.
The Rangers have that underdog passion that I find so attractive in teams and despite the fact that I’ve never taken an interest in this club ... it’s World Series or bust!